By Brandon HENSLEY
A reminder of how bad it can get in Southern California if a large earthquake hits was given at the CV Town Council meeting on April 21.
Inside the La Crescenta Library community room, Doug LaCount from the L.A. County Fire Department was on hand to present a slideshow of his recent trip to Japan to assist with the devastation after the earthquake.
Capt. LaCount, who has been with L.A. County Fire for over 20 years, is part of the California Task Force 2, Urban Search and Rescue team for L.A. County. It is one of only two teams in the U.S. that can help internationally, the other being based in Virginia.
LaCount said his team just finished a job in New Zealand in February, and two weeks later the earthquake in Japan hit, and LaCount knew the call would come again to go overseas.
LaCount arrived in Japan on a military cargo plane. His team consisted of 74 people, including firefighters, paramedics and structural engineers
They worked mainly in the cities of Ofunato and Kamaishi. LaCount, who also spent three years in the U.S. Army, said he had never been to Japan before but he realized that “Japan has the best early earthquake warning in the world by far,” and noted that there are over 300 sensors across the country due to its history with natural disasters.
The slideshow presented pictures of some of the worst damage, including floating houses that were on fire.
LaCount’s team had to look through homes that were still standing to find victims. Sometimes, the team encountered streets that were so torn up they were unrecognizable. His team didn’t know which street was which sometimes.
“Every building was torn from the foundation, so you might have a few blocks where there was nothing standing.”
LaCount looked through cars and found deceased people. He also traveled to hills that were deemed “safety zones,” but the water had risen above and caused major damage.
LaCount did have praise for the country overall though.
“What a beautiful country. I would love to go back there under different circumstances,” he said. “North Japan … it was like you could have been driving through the Colorado Rockies, just timber country, mountains and snow.”
He then talked about how people in Southern California should start preparing for an earthquake if they haven’t done so already.
“The time to prepare is now … it’s better to be self-reliant,” he said, and advised that having supplies that will last a family up to 72 hours in case of an emergency is best.
In conjunction with this presentation, Stephanie English, spokesperson for L.A. County Fire, said that more slots to sign up for CERT training have recently opened. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team.
English said people like LaCount would be teaching these classes.
“This is the expertise level we have at these classes,” she said.
Toward the beginning of the meeting, Lisa Dutton and Steve Pierce said that groundbreaking will soon begin on a Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s memorial, located at the entrance of the Sheriff’s station. It will be semi-circular native stone and bronze memorial.
Dutton and Pierce, who are on the memorial committee, said the goal was to raise between $8,000 and $20,000, and that they have so far raised $16,000. Pierce said he expects the groundbreaking to begin in May or June.
A proclamation was given to the Armenian-American Community by the council, specifically to Arick Gevorkian, chairman of the Armenian Cultural Foundation and CV Armenian Community & Youth Center in remembrance of the Armenian Genocide that started in 1915.
“Regardless, if it’s 96 years or 196 years the Armenian-American community will not rest until the perpetrators due just and recognize the Armenian Genocide because time has no value,” Gevorkian.
The next CV Town Council will take place May 19 inside the La Crescenta Library community room at 7 p.m.